What Is Dry Needling and What Does It Actually Do?
If you are looking for immediate results, faster progress, controlling your pain without relying on pain medication, and enhancing your performance, you might be a candidate for dry needling! Keep reading to find out what dry needling is and what it can treat!
What Is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a natural pain relief treatment that uses thin monofilament needles to insert the skin and stimulate underlying tissues. This manages neuromuscular pain as well as movement impairments. Dry needling is a highly accurate technique to reach muscles, connective tissue, myofascial trigger points, and joints. The treatment also works to target deeper tissues than massage or even instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (i.e., Graston technique).
How Does It Work?
There are several peripheral and central mechanisms by which Dry Needling can modulate pain and improve mobility.
1. Trigger Point Release
When a muscle is contracting and getting fatigued, Acetylcholine (a chemical messenger that stimulates muscle contraction) will build up in the space where the commanding nerve meets the muscle fiber (neuromuscular junction). Sometimes with the overstimulation of the tissue (for example, being in a poor posture, overworking in the gym, doing exercises with improper form and body mechanics, poor sleeping positions, inflammation, etc.), Acetylcholine has a hard time leaving the neuromuscular junctions which inhibit the tissue from relaxing completely. Inserting the needle will then allow the Acetylcholine to leave the junctions – a quick release (you might get a little twitch). Basically, an active trigger point dissipates! (click here to read more about trigger points)
2. Local Pain Control
When there is a chronic dysfunction in a body part, the density of pain receptors will increase, so your body becomes more sensitive and aware of that area. Dry needling works locally to decrease pain and inflammation by a. directly decreasing the density of pain receptors such as substance P and others, b. reducing pro-inflammatory factors such as TNF-α, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10, and c. increasing Adenosis, which is an anti-inflammatory agent.
3. Central Pain Control
We can use dry needling with electrical stimulation or e-stim to accelerate the pain-relief process. With the addition of electric stimulation, we are a. directly stimulating the Aδ, C, and Aβ pain fibers, b. facilitating diffuse noxious inhibitory control within the dorsal horn of the spine, c. pushing opioids to mediate pain suppression, and d. utilizing serotonin for sending inhibitory messages to the area to suppress pain. (click here to read more about pain).
4. Increase Blood Flow
Insertion of the needles triggers local microtrauma and release of vasoactive substances, which in turn cause vasodilation and angiogenesis. Simply put, dry needling leads to increased blood flow and oxygenation and facilitates the healing process.
Who Can Benefit From Dry Needling?
Evidence suggests that dry needling with electric stimulation can significantly reduce pain and disability associated with several neuromusculoskeletal conditions. The application of this treatment is numerous and expanding: lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, jaw and mouth pain (TMJ disorders), shoulder pain, myofascial pain syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee and hip osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, scar tissue, etc.
Physical therapists are movement experts who are well-educated in musculoskeletal and the neuromuscular system as well as in identifying and treating movement dysfunctions. In Symmetry Physical Therapy, our physical therapy doctors who are Dry Needling Certified further supplemented this knowledge by obtaining specific postgraduate education courses and hours of clinical training.
Dry needling is an effective technique in our toolbox that allows us to target the tissues we cannot reach otherwise. We use dry needling as an adjunct to numerous skilled interventions (click here to check other services we are providing). The goal is to facilitate better movement while also giving you the capacity to keep that movement. This will also help you reach your potential, and enjoy an active lifestyle!
So, if you are interested in experiencing a one-on-one personalized and comprehensive evaluation and treatment session with one of our physical therapists, click here to schedule an appointment to see us today!
Interested in reading more? Check out here!
Painful and Tender Muscles: Dry Needling Can Reduce Myofascial Pain Related to Trigger Points Muscles
Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2013 43:9, 635-635